Enhanced Navigation And Discussion

Steven4 responsesAbout Dukeo
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In the reviews that are being submitted for my review contest, I keep reading that I should improve dukeo’s navigation.

After reading it so many times, I figured that I didn’t have to wait until the end of the review contest to implement some modifications.

Hey, that’s how I am: always reactive.

Rethinking Navigation

enhanced navigation

Organizing Categories

The task that took me the most time was going through all the posts on Dukeo in order to assign them to new categories.

Believe me, this was not at easy task since there are almost 2000 posts in the archive. (Yes, that’s a lot of posts for a 2 years old blog).

Once all the post were reorganized in neat categories, I made a few changes so you can navigate them more easily.

Making Them Accessible

As a result, you can now see all the categories listed in the footer of most pages and easily navigate them.

On a category page or on a post, you can also check the “popular posts” section in the sidebar: when possible, this list displays only posts in the same category so you can easily browse popular related posts.

Rethinking Comments

enhanced discussion

Short Comments

For a long time, I had been replying to every single comment on Dukeo, but lately I became discouraged.

Replying to a gazillion comments that just say: “nice post, keep up the good work” is the most boring task ever, and it doesn’t help creating a rich discussion. As a result, I completely stopped replying to comments a month ago.

Selfish Comments

There are also lots of people who are commenting on blogs just to plug their own blogs or services, so I wanted to make sure these low-value comments were not getting through.

Until now, I was moderating every single comment but with an increasing number of comments, this was not a viable solution anymore.

The Fix

It took me a while to come up with a solution that might fix these problems.

I’ve decided to put a minimum length limit for the comments posted on Dukeo: anything shorter than 200 characters can’t be posted.

I hope that will encourage you to post useful comments, as well as share your experience and knowledge.

I also figured that if someone has to type a longer comment, they are less likely to just do a stupid plug for their blog or service.

But since this might not be enough to stop manual spam, I’ve decided to implement some other rules.

The New Rules

Here are the new rules that I’m applying for comments on Dukeo:

  • A comment must be at least 200 characters long,
  • Someone with a previously approved comment will be automatically approved (to make the discussion easier and faster),
  • A comment with 1 link or more will be directly flagged as spam,
  • A person doing a stupid plug for their blog or service will go straight to blacklist (next comments from this person are flagged as spam automatically).

The Goal: Focusing on Value

My goal with Dukeo is to build a healthy and friendly community.

In order to achieve this goal, I’m now entrusting regular visitors by auto-approving their comments, and I’m trying my best to keep (automatic and manual) spammers as far as possible from this blog.

If I want to create a better relationship with Dukeo’s readers, I can’t waste my time with people who are thinking only about themselves.

Dukeo is all about sharing and learning together.

Let me know in the comments if the new navigation features improves your experience with Dukeo by make archives more accessible. Please, also share your thoughts on the new commenting policy.

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  1. Mike Schinkel

    In general, I agree. However, just something to consider regarding: “A comment with 1 link or more will be directly flagged as spam”

    That rule this would cause most of my comments on blogs to be flagged as spam because I often link out to Wikipedia or posts on mailing lists or elsewhere to provide context and support of my comments.

    Maybe always flagging links in comments as spam is just to bit too Draconian? (I would have linked that prior word to Wikipedia’s entry for “Draco”, but then you’d flag this comment as spam and might never see it. ;)

    1. The answer is simple: you made your point without the link, didn’t you? Then this link is not needed.

  2. Donna Anderson

    Hi Steven,

    It’s been almost a week since you made these changes and I’m just wondering if you’ve seen any difference yet, especially regarding the navigation. Are you glad you made the changes?

    And if you don’t mind sharing – what plug-in are you using for the Popular Posts in the sidebar? That’s pretty cool that it sorts by category, too. I crashed one of my blogs a year ago because of a buggy plug-in so I’m always afraid to install them now unless someone else recommends them.

    1. I have seen a difference, but in the wrong direction: shorter visits, less pageviews.

      I guess sometimes you shouldn’t listen to your readers ;)

      The plugin is called “WordPress Popular Posts”.

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